Comparing Interaction and Task Factors in Innovative and Traditional Classrooms: Identifying Differences and Areas for Future Research

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Despite myriad changes to language teaching methods over time, university-level classroom spaces have largely remained the same—until now. Recent innovations in classroom space design center on technological advances, include movable furniture and coffee-shop style rooms, and are believed to facilitate language learning in several ways. Specifically, compared to traditional classrooms, innovative spaces are designed in the hope of decreasing pre-task set up, increasing student-centered interaction, and facilitating collaborative work with multiple partners—features believed to be important for classroom learning. However, whether or not such features are present in these innovative spaces, or more so than in traditional classrooms, has yet to be tested empirically. This study set out to compare student interaction and the use of space in traditional and innovative classrooms, examining the presence of the aforementioned features. Data collected from university Spanish language and linguistic courses demonstrate that while some differences in use of space and interaction were observed when lessons in traditional and innovative classrooms were compared, notable differences were only present when the instructor was teaching all sections of a course in an innovative classroom and had adapted his/her lesson plans accordingly. Implications for language teaching, instructed language acquisition, and classroom space design are discussed.


Publisher Acknowledgment:

This entry is linking out to the publisher's version of the following article: Gurzynski-Weiss, L., Long, A., & Solon, M. (2015). Comparing interaction and task factors in innovative and traditional classrooms: Identifying differences and areas for future research. Hispania, 98, 61-78.